Professional Project Fund
The Professional Project Fund is a Careers Service initiative for continuing Imperial College London students. It offers you the opportunity to develop your own graduate level internship project that is tailored to your interests and skills.
The projects must be full-time for four-week (or part-time equivalent) and can be taken at any point during the summer vacation period. Your project should identify an organisation in the third sector that could benefit from your skills and knowledge. Once agreed with the organisation, you can then apply to the Imperial College Careers Service for a £1400 bursary to support you in undertaking your project.
Summer 2020 Professional Project Fund recipient Zainab Titus (Earth Science and Engineering) had this to say on her experience:
"The Professional Project Fund scheme supported me to execute and drive a project that has contributed to social impact has been very rewarding for me not just personally, but also academically and professionally. I worked on a project that allowed me to apply the analytical, programming, communication and networking skills I developed during my research on a greater platform. I have gained valuable practical experience in project management, leadership, and organisation through initiating, leading, and managing a project within an organisation. For me, this is a phenomenal experience that has helped me learn more about my strengths and interests, as well as apply my professional skills to a project outside my research area for a noble cause."
Professional Project Tabs
How do I apply?
Applications for the Professional Project Fund will open in Spring 2023.
The Placement and Internship Unit will host Professional Project Fund introduction seminars during March and April, bookable on JobsLive. These sessions will provide you with a detailed overview of the scheme and useful tips for identifying the right organisation and scoping your project. In the meantime, please review the Professional Project Fund Overview [pdf].
Professional Project Fund Application Process
Step one: Identify and/or develop a graduate level project within a suitable organisation in the third sector. You should speculatively approach organisation to understand their business needs and define a project that would be mutually beneficial. Use our resources on volunteering to find relevant charities.
Step two: Once a project has been agreed, ask the organisation to read and complete our Organisation Guide and Form 2022 (PPF) [pdf].
Step three: Complete our online application form giving details of the project scoped and chosen organisation.
- You must be a current Imperial College undergraduate or PhD student who will be continuing with their current programme of study at Imperial in the next academic year
- The organisation you complete the project with should be in the Third Sector.
- You should have a distinct 'graduate level' project to complete in the four weeks
- The Careers Service must be provided with a contact name within the organisation
Defining your project
Students have undertaken Professional Project Fund projects in a wide range of organisations, so there is not a fixed definition of what your graduate level project should look like to be successful.
However, the Professional Project Fund isn’t intended to be used for general volunteering as a fundraiser or helping around the office. Projects should be at a level that present you a challenge in applying your skills and offers an opportunity to develop these further. A strong application will demonstrate how you will utilise your skills or knowledge gained in your degree or develop new skills that relate to your career sector of interest.
The project should also be your focus for the duration of the four weeks and have clear aims and objects about what you are setting out to achieve.
For more detail on previous projects that were successfully awarded funding, please read the case studies below.
What sort of organisation can I get a bursary to do an internship at?
You can apply for a bursary at any registered organisation in the third sector. This can include voluntary and community organisations (e.g. registered charities, associations, community groups), social enterprises, mutuals, co-operatives, think tanks and private research institutes (this does not include universities and colleges).
There are case studies detailing the experiences of previous Professional Project Fund participants, which you may find useful to provide ideas.
Please note we reserve the right to disqualify any applicant whose project plan or organisation runs contrary to Imperial College London policy, public policy, contravenes any Law of the United Kingdom, or otherwise may be considered to bring the College into disrepute.
Does my project need to take place with a UK organisation?
No. Projects can be undertaken with any organisation within the third sector. In your application, you will be required to provide evidence of the organisation’s status as a third sector organisation.
Can I get help finding an organisation? Can you help me with my application form/CV & covering letter?
Yes! The Placement and Internship Unit run scheme insight seminars in the Spring Term, bookable on JobsLive that gives hints and tips on how to find an organisation, defining your project and the Professional Project Fund application process.
You can also book an Internship Discussions on JobsLive for one to one advice.
How do I approach the organisations?
For the majority of organisations in the third sector you will need to apply speculatively. It is important to research the organisation first so you know enough about them before you make your speculative approach. Think about the following:
- What do you find interesting about this organisation?
- Which department would like to spend your internship in?
- How can you be of value to the organisation?
- Who is the best person to contact (if it is not clear from the website perhaps you could use LinkedIn to find a suitable contact)
Once you have completed this research, prepare a CV and covering letter targeted towards this company. In your letter you should explain why you are writing to them. Explain that you are seeking to develop a project as part of the Professional Project Fund and should give the specific dates when you are available. Make it clear that the College will be funding your work so this internship will be of no financial burden to the organisation.
Your letter should also detail what skills/experience/knowledge you have to offer (using the research you have already completed to show how this matches what they require). Your CV should back up your letter by giving further evidence of the skills/knowledge/experience that you think the organisation will be looking for. This may have been gained through extra-curricular activities, project work on your course, previous work experience or voluntary work.
Don’t forget the Careers Service is here to help with your CV and covering letter if you need us and there are also resources on our website.
What sort of project is likely to be successful in being awarded a bursary?
You should have a distinct, rigorous ‘graduate level’ project to complete that makes use of the skills you have been developing whilst at Imperial. Have a look at our case studies on our website to get an idea of the projects that have previously been successful. It should be clear that the project is manageable within four weeks.
When does my project need to take place?
Projects must take place in the summer vacation period and must be fully complete by the start of the next academic year. Please review the Imperial College London calendar for guideline dates.
Would a Professional Project Fund bursary be suitable for UROP, another vacation studentship at a university or to support ongoing PhD research?
No. Unfortunately, the Professional Project Fund is not designed for UROP participants or students completing research at universities. There are other forms of funding available for this work. Please see review further details on the UROP website.
PhD candidates cannot apply for the Professional Project Fund for work relating to their PhD.
I’m a final year BSc, going on to do a masters at Imperial, am I eligible?
Due to how bursary payments are made to Professional Project Fund participants, students must be continuing their current programme of study in to the next academic year. Unfortunately, final year BSc students who intend to undertake a masters at Imperial are not eligible, due to their student status terminating at the end of the BSc, before recommencing for the masters.
Can I receive a Professional Project Fund bursary for working in a charity shop?
The Professional Project Fund is designed to help Imperial students develop their employability skills to help them in their future careers. We are looking to fund ‘graduate level’ projects. As such, work in a charity shop is unlikely to make it through the selection process unless it forms part of a project that would develop these skills. For example, a previous bursary winner has conducted a cost-benefit analysis of charity shop hubs as a method of distributing stock.
My placement is not 4 weeks exactly; could I still be accepted?
Yes, although you will only be paid for the equivalent of 4 weeks full-time work. Pro-rata payments for a total of 20 days can be organised for internships that differ from 5 days per week. We do, however, prefer if you can complete a project over 4 weeks or equivalent. If you have any further questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact the Placement and Internship Unit at email@example.com.
Can I work from home?
In some instances you may be required to work remotely. We will be looking for evidence in your application that you have considered how you will effectively work remotely to still deliver the project outcomes.
What support is available before I go on my internship?
We will hold a launch event in the summer term that will include information on how to make the most of your experience.
I’ve been turned down. May I have some feedback?
Depending on numbers, it is possible that a number of applications will be unsuccessful for a variety of reasons. If you would like feedback on any aspect of your application, the interview or the selection process, please contact the Placement and Internship Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.